Join Michigan’s State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) as our first-ever Youth Defense Research and Training Attorney, working statewide to help attorneys improve outcomes for children navigating the juvenile delinquency system. The Research and Training Attorney will be a part of SADO’s Criminal Defense Resource Center (CDRC), supporting the CDRC’s mission to train and support the criminal defense bar. The position pays from $64,728 to $131,397, depending on experience. Our office follows a hybrid workplace model that mixes in-office and remote work to offer flexibility and support to staff. This position is for either the Detroit or Lansing office.

As a member of SADO’s Criminal Defense Resource Center, SADO’s first-ever Youth Defense Research and Training Attorney will work closely with SADO’s first-ever Assistant Youth Appellate Defender and the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel Youth Defense Attorney to be part of monumental change in Michigan. Together, the Research and Training Attorney and Youth Defender will be at the forefront of establishing fundamental rights for children brought into the system. The Research and Training Attorney will take the lead on developing resources and support for Michigan’s developing youth defense practice.

The primary role of the Youth Defense Research and Training Attorney will be to develop high-quality training programs, resources, model pleadings, and support to attorneys representing Michigan’s children in delinquency proceedings. The Youth Defense Research and Training Attorney, when time permits, will also represent young people on their direct appeals or for other post-disposition proceedings. Job responsibilities include:

  • Develop and conduct training events for criminal defense attorneys throughout the state, partnering with other training providers, including the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, the Criminal Advocacy Program of Wayne Circuit Court, the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission, and local bar associations
  • Train youth defenders on how to use available resources
  • Develop resource books and manuals on topics of youth defense
  • Develop and maintain databases providing legal resources to practitioners
  • Investigate, develop, and litigate novel and cutting-edge legal arguments to advance and expand the        rights of young people in contact with the youth justice system
  • Provide research and respond to legal questions posed by attorneys for case consultation and prepare appellate and trial court briefs and motions
  • Work to identify and advocate for solutions to systemic issues
  • Prepare “at a glance” and “frequently asked question” content and documents for children and their families regarding the youth system
  • Screen, approve, and organize briefs, pleadings, appellate decisions, and a variety of other relevant legal materials for inclusion in the database
  • Work collaboratively with team and community resources to assist Michigan youth and their families in matters related to housing, education, school discipline, mental health, and other collateral matters that contribute to deepening system involvement
  • Continuously seek professional and personal development through trainings and skills courses.
  • Provide occasional legal representation to children in youth appeals.

To Apply

Submit a cover letter stating your interest in the position. Include your resume and a redacted writing sample.

Writing Sample Special Instructions: As part of its commitment to diversity in the workplace and its goal to prevent hiring bias, we ask that applicants submit redacted writing samples, which will be reviewed without access to applicant information and scored based on objective criteria. Your name, address, work affiliation, and other identifiers should be redacted from your writing sample. Files should be named generically, and your name should not be a part of the filename. For example, you can name the file WS1.pdf or WritingSample.pdf.

Applications should be emailed by May 26, 2024, to and include “Job ID 04-2024” in the subject line.

SADO is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We recognize people of color are disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal system and actively seek to employ staff with backgrounds representative of the people we represent and the defense community. We strongly encourage people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ people, and people directly affected by the criminal legal system to apply. A felony conviction does not prohibit employment at SADO.

  • Applicants must be current members of the Michigan Bar or eligible to waive into the bar
  • Applicants must have a demonstrated commitment to youth defense, indigent defense, public service, and racial equity
  • The ideal candidate will have experience representing children in delinquency proceedings and be an experienced youth defense trainer; youth public defense experience is preferred
  • Knowledge, training, and experience related to adolescent development, neuroscience, education, mental health treatment, and best practices for rehabilitation of children
  • Experience developing training content, programs, and publications
  • Skills in legal research and writing, client communication, and oral advocacy
  • Proficient and advanced technological skills
  • Ability to communicate effectively with people of different backgrounds and lived experiences and proven expertise in communicating with children and adolescents
Benefits State employee benefits are comprehensive and include:
  • Medical, dental, vision, and life insurance
  • 401k plan with up to a 9% employer contribution
  • 13 paid holidays
  • 3 weeks of paid vacation in year one
  • Paid sick time and, for eligible employees, paid parental leave
  • Long-term disability insurance
  • Flexible work hours
  • Hybrid work environment (remote/office)
  • Paid training opportunities
Job Contact
Janet Boswell